How long do spaghetti and meatballs last in the fridge? (3+ signs of spoilage)
In this article, we are going to answer the question “How long do spaghetti and meatballs last in the fridge?” and discuss what determines the shelf life of spaghetti and meatballs in the fridge and how to know if spaghetti and meatballs are bad.
How long do spaghetti and meatballs last in the fridge?
Cooked spaghetti and meatballs last for about 3-4 days when kept under appropriate conditions in the fridge at 40°F (5°C) or below. It should be kept in an air-tight container or bag.
Cooked spaghetti and meatballs should be cooled to a temperature of 40°F (5°C) or below within 2 hours after cooking to reduce microbial growth. While refrigeration only reduces the rate of microbial development, freezing can halt it, extending its shelf life to longer periods (1,4).
The exact shelf life of cooked foods is difficult to determine and can vary depending on many factors, such as storage conditions, the packaging used, the cooking practices, and the ingredients used (2,3).
What determines the shelf life of spaghetti meatballs in the fridge?
The shelf life of spaghetti and meatballs in the fridge is determined by various factors, including (2,3,4):
The ingredients used: the addition of preservatives, either chemical preservatives, such as sodium benzoate and propionate, or natural ingredients with antioxidant properties, such as herbs (garlic, pepper), can effectively improve the shelf life of food, as it reduces the microbial growth and the oxidation reactions.
The packaging material: the use of vacuum or modified atmosphere packaging can extend the shelf life of food, due to the reduction of the oxygen available to the microorganisms and oxidation reactions.
The storage conditions: cold storage reduces the rate of microbial growth and the rate at which enzymatic reactions occur, consequently improving shelf life.
The food handling conditions: poor hygienic food practices, such as cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods, the use of unwashed utensils and surfaces and improper cooling can cause food contaminations.
How long do spaghetti and meatballs last in the freezer?
Spaghetti and meatballs last for about 3-4 months in the freezer (1). You can easily store the spaghetti and meatballs in the freezer in air-tight containers or plastic zipper bags. Freezing halts bacterial growth owing to the extremely low temperature, thus preserving the quality of the food for a long time (4).
However, even at very low temperatures, chemical changes occur in foods, leading to quality loss. Oxidation of lipids, degradation of amino acids, vitamins and pigments cause changes in the flavour and nutritional loss during frozen storage (3,4).
Therefore, although spaghetti and meatballs are safe to eat after the expiration date, a long storage time is not recommended.
How to know if spaghetti and meatballs are spoiled?
To know if spaghetti and meatballs are spoiled, you should be aware of the possible signs indicating spoilage, such as (1,2,3,4):
The generation of off-odours and off-flavours, such as oxidized, rancid, putrid, sour, alcoholic and ammonia-like are indications of possible degradation by microorganisms or oxidation reactions.
The generation of gas and slime can be signs of yeast or bacterial growth.
The discolouration, with coloured pigmentations, may indicate microbial development.
Changes in the texture, both of the spaghetti, such as rot spoilage and the meatballs, such as an extreme loss of firmness may indicate microbial development.
Other FAQs about Spaghetti which you may be interested in.
What are the risks of eating spoiled spaghetti and meatballs?
The risks of eating spoiled spaghetti and meatballs are of experiencing food-borne illnesses due to infections caused by pathogenic microorganisms or food poisoning due to the ingestion of toxins produced by these microorganisms.
Symptoms related to foodborne illnesses include vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea, and abdominal pain (2).
Ground meat in the meatballs can have bacteria like Salmonella, Campylobacter, E.coli, and Listeria on it, which can cause serious health implications if consumed.
Pasta can be contaminated with Bacillus cereus, Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium botulinum, in addition to Salmonella, yeasts and moulds.
In this article, we answered the question “How long do spaghetti and meatballs last in the fridge?” and discussed what determines the shelf life of spaghetti and meatballs in the fridge and how to know if spaghetti and meatballs have gone bad.
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Usda.gov. [cited 2023 Aug 11]. Available from: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/leftovers-and-food-safety
Labuza TP, Breene WM. Applications of “active packaging” for improvement of shelf‐life and nutritional quality of fresh and extended shelf‐life foods 1. Journal of food processing and preservation. 1989 Feb;13(1):1-69.
James SJ, James C. Chilling and freezing of foods. Food Processing: Principles and Applications. 2014 Apr 7:79-105.